10 years, Martin Luther King Jr.
The African-American storytelling group Tellers and Talkers will share stories of hope, inspiration and overcoming odds at Malibu United Methodist Church’s Tales by the Sea. Camp Kilpatrick’s Locked Up in Malibu youth group will perform improv.
By Ryan O’Quinn/Special to The Malibu Times
“Once upon a time…:” four words that everyone loves to hear from age one to 100. Spinning yarns has been a part of human culture since the beginning of time, and the ancient art of storytelling is still alive and well in Malibu.
Whether we love colorful tales of adventure, personal accounts from childhood or being reminded of history, storytellers keep doing what they do best and listeners continue to marvel as their imagination transports them to time and places both real and imaginary.
The local storytelling concert “Tales by the Sea” continues to celebrate its 10th season with the presentation of the group Tellers and Talkers honoring Martin Luther King Jr.’s memory this Saturday at Malibu United Methodist Church.
“There is nothing like it,” said event organizer Ann Buxie. “From presidents to janitors, we are all the same at a storytelling concert. I don’t think we can begin to understand each other until we stop and look at who we are and stories kind of tell us who we are.”
Buxie started a special presentation a couple seasons ago called Talewind Performance that begins 30 minutes prior to the headlining storytellers. The new event encourages locals to share three to five minute stories with the crowd.
This weekend, the 30-minute Talewind Performance will feature youth from Camp Kilpatrick, a juvenile detention facility in Malibu. The improv comedy troupe is directed by Susie Duff and the group is called “Locked up in Malibu.”
“You can tell a story through more than words,” Buxie said. “You can tell it in art or through improv and [Locked up in Malibu] will be sharing their story. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see people in a different light. We get used to passing judgments and living with those stereotypes, and storytelling to me blows them open.”
Buxie has headed the program from its inception a decade ago. The series was started by the church’s pastor, Rev. Larry Peacock, who came up with the idea as a way to bring the community together in an entertaining way and asked Buxie to organize the event.
“It primes your pump when you listen to these stories,” Buxie said. “We have television and movies now and it’s really a shame that we don’t see each other any more, and this is one reason I wanted to start doing this.”
Buxie said the venue has seen the top storytellers in the country perform at “Tales by the Sea.” She has attended the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee and has brought some of the headliners from that event to Malibu.
Tellers and Talkers is a group of five African American storytellers. Each individual teller will vary in their stories and topics, but all will share stories of hope, inspiration and overcoming odds.
Michael McCarty of Tellers and Talkers has been a professional storyteller since 1992. He is based in Los Angeles but travels around the country telling stories. “I do a combination of folk tales, historical stories and personal stories,” McCarty said. “I will be telling a historical tale of the struggle for freedom.”
McCarty said he had always enjoyed hearing and telling stories and discovered it as a profession in Chicago more than 10 years ago and began researching folk tales. “Each of us brings a little different slant on how we tell our stories,” he said. “That’s what makes us a fun group to work with and a fun group to watch. One of the things I like about the Malibu venue is that it is a nice intimate setting that is great for storytelling and we’ve always had a great time there.”
Another member of Tellers and Talkers is Barbara Clark, a retired employee of the Los Angeles City Library Department. Clark said she has been a storyteller at heart all of her life and got involved in storytelling after hearing a teller at a library nine years ago. “My family would sit around in the evenings as the grown-ups told stories,” Clark said of her childhood in the Maryland suburbs of Washington D.C. “Our family didn’t have televisions and I was the reader in the crowd so I would tell stories from books or recount movies that I had seen.”
Clark now teaches storytelling to senior citizens and says those stories need to be passed down to the new generations. “If [seniors] don’t share their stories before they go we will lose them and all that richness is lost,” Clark said. “I want them to know their lives are important, their experiences are worth remembering and sharing with other people, particularly young people.”
On Saturday Clark will be relating stories from her experience with segregation and will also be sharing a short story titled “Trees for a King” that she wrote about the beautification of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles.
Other members of the group include Willie Sims, Ellaraino and Leslie Perry. “Tales by the Sea” begins at 7 p.m. at Malibu United Methodist Church at 30128 Morning View Drive. Tickets are $10 and reservations can be made by calling 310.457.2385.